New Apple patents point to rugged iPhone, advanced EarPods

iPhone 6S Plus
Changes are afoot for the Apple iPhone.

Trying to keep future plans under wraps would be a lot easier for companies like Apple if they didn't have to file for patents for their most innovative tech. A couple of new patents spotted by AppleInsider offer an intriguing look at what we can expect from future iPhones.

First up there's a filing for waterproof speakers - is a rugged, heavy duty, outdoor iPhone on the way? Or does Apple have plans to make its flagship phones fully waterproof? The system described is similar to one already in place on the Apple Watch.

The patent details specify the use of a mesh material sitting directly above an acoustic port which would direct liquid away and reduce the pressure. A hydrophobic coating is also mentioned to help draw liquid out, though it sounds as though some water flow would be allowed if the pressure became too much.

Feel the noise

Then there are the bone-conducting EarPods, which would measure vibrations in your skull to better cancel out background noise and make your music and voice conversations all that more clear. Using a built-in accelerometer the device could distinguish between someone speaking and ambient noise.

Not only would the technology make it easier to hear the sound coming through your headphones, it would also mean your iPhone was more adept at picking up your voice in a noisy environment - essential if you want to keep up your relationship with Siri.

As always with patent applications, there's no guarantee that these features (or anything like them) will make into into the iPhone 7 or 8, but they show the different areas Apple is looking at, and give some useful clues about what we might see in the coming years.

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David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.